I attended (and presented at) the Butler Group “Information Management and Collaboration” event that was held in London on 14-15 May. Regrettably I couldn’t get to the first day of the event, so missed presentations on topics such as:
- Document collaboration using Sharepoint, and
- Next generation collaboration through BEA Systems portals
Hence, I was left to ponder how much emphasis was given to creating and developing a collaborative culture in these presentations, or whether (as I suspect) the assumption is that this shiny new technology would resolve all the Enterprise’s collaboration needs. Excuse the cynicism, but this seems to be the pattern on just about every vendor presentation I’ve seen or heard since the Web 2.0 bandwagon started rolling.I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the presentation from Rob Gray, UK General Manager of blueKiwi Software, who clearly understood that without a collaborative culture, the technology would be nothing more than an expensive anachronism. Maybe this new wave of realism will begin to permeate some of the ‘traditional’ software vendors who have conveniently migrated to the Web2.0 space. We’ll see!The blueKiwi software was something of a revelation, providing a fully integrated suite of social networking and social media tools for supporting communities of interest or practice. I’ve done much research in this area myself as part of my Technology Steward role for the IDeA CoP Platform, and was impressed by many of the features and its overall ease of use. Quite clearly it has been developed by people who understand this market and how communities (of interest/practice) work.A brief aside here, because I feel there is some confusion about the use of terms such as social networking and social media, which are quite often used interchangeably.Social networking is where users interact creatively. Sites such as Myspace or Facebook being the most popular for this genre.Social media is where users publish and share information. YouTube is probably the clear winner for this genre.In a similar way to the IDeA CoP platform, the blueKiwi software is both a social networking environment in that it enables new connections to be dynamically created, and a social media environment in that it provides a variety of tools for publishing and sharing information (e.g. forums, blogs, wikis). The company itself is French in origin, as you will see from the website. I’m informed an English version is imminent. Certainly worth keeping an eye on this particular company/product.Back to my presentation, which was entitled “Putting Enterprise Search and Discovery to Work”. The presentation describes how social networks (and specifically communities of practice) can be used to improve the relevance of search results by using customised (i.e. thematic filtered) web searches. You need to use a search API to make this work. My case study was based on what we’ve implemented on the IDeA CoP platform, using the Exalead search service. The slides are available on Slideshare.